All the partnerships this year “have the element of job growth, local hiring and local sourcing as their mission and bottom line,” said Kelli Cooper, vice president of the Albuquerque Community Foundation.
The Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative led the pack, receiving $38,562 in grants; Healthy Neighborhoods Albuquerque was close behind with $37,307 in grants; and the Downtown Arts & Cultural District collected $30,125 in awards.
Each of the organizations started out with $5,000 grants from Nusenda Credit Union, making them the single largest corporate donor of the event, said Cooper.
Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative is coordinated around key elements of a “healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said chief strategist Robin Brule. The goal is to create 10,000 living-wage jobs by 2025 through entrepreneurship and innovation, while “developing our own human talents to take those jobs.”
To achieve this, Brule said, the initiative has “identified alternative types of capital access, created different types of educational and training programs, identified local economic development dollars to help support growth strategies, and is working to make tech transfer easier, so that commercialization can be taken to market and create local jobs.”
Healthy Neighborhoods Albuquerque has as its goal to “hire local, buy local and support business development in traditionally under-invested neighborhoods, and increase the number of Main Street jobs in Albuquerque,” said Dr. Richard Larson, executive vice chancellor for research at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. UNMHSC is one of six anchor institutions in the partnership, along with Presbyterian Hospital, Albuquerque Public Schools, Central New Mexico Community College, First Choice Community Healthcare and the city of Albuquerque.
Improving the socio-economic level of people benefits not only them, but entire neighborhoods, Larson said.
“Only about half of a person’s health is from the health care that we deliver at hospitals. The other half has to do with if you live in a safe neighborhood, do you have a job, do you have a certain education level. Those are called social determinants of health, and we know that as you address those issues and improve those things, that not only a person’s health improves, but whole neighborhoods’ health improves.”
The Downtown Arts & Cultural District is “focused on supporting and growing arts and culture businesses, institutions and creative people in and around the Downtown area,” said organization director Joe Cardillo. This is being accomplished with workshops and special training sessions, as well as providing help in getting access to funding.
Among the enterprises supported in the Arts and & Cultural District are breweries, bars, coffee shops and other culinary enterprises, theater and performance arts, music venues and musicians, art galleries and collectives and film, digital media and entertainment.
“These grants today are critical for us because it allows us to take the money and infuse it back into all the stuff that we’re already building,” Cardillo said. “Downtown functions as a gateway and a place for people to start exploring the city and from there go out and experience other things.
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